Top Prospect Wood Debuts for Nats, Hits Single in First AB

The Nats newest addition James Wood went 1-for-4 with a walk in his MLB debut. (Photo: John Canery/The Zebra Press)

WASHINGTON, DC-The buzz began Friday afternoon. With the Nats in Tampa Bay on a road trip, multiple sources reported that the team’s no. 1 prospect, James Wood, would be called up. With the Nats hitting a rough patch, winning just one of the last five games, everyone not on the field looked ahead to July 1 at home against the New York Mets.

Wood is another piece of the trade that sent Juan Soto (now with the Yankees) to San Diego. For a generational talent in Soto, the Nats got a haul. Besides Wood, the team also acquired CJ Abrams and MacKenzie Gore. And these players, along with others still in the minors, like Robert Hassell III, are expected to form the next contending group. With the excitement of every call-up, the unfortunate reality is that room must be made on the roster. And to welcome Wood to the next level, the Nats released veteran outfielder Eddie Rosario, designating him for assignment.

Wood’s major league career began at 6: 45 pm. Manager Dave Martinez penciled him in at left field, batting sixth. The 21-year-old Olney, Md. native stepped in the batter’s box in the bottom of the second inning, greeted by a standing ovation from the 26,719 in attendance. He hit a David Peterson sinker to left, past a diving Jose Iglesias, for a single. The inning ended with Wood on third, when Nick Senzel hit into a double play.

Wood hit a single in his first at-bat. (Photo: John Canery/The Zebra Press)

Gore pitched a masterful 5.2 innings, striking out eight on 104 pitches. The only run charged to him came after Martinez called to the bullpen for Derek Law, who couldn’t strand Harrison Bader at second. He scored when Mark Vientos singled to left.

Things looked promising for the Nats early, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But everything fell apart after Gore’s departure. The Mets scored three runs in the sixth to take the lead and spoil his chance for a win. The home team played solid defense behind Gore, too, because he pitched quickly. But a fielding error by Abrams played a part in the Mets grabbing the lead.

The Nats managed to tie in the bottom of the eighth, when Joey Meneses hit a fastball for a double to right, similar to the hit by Soto in the 2019 Wild Card win. Jesse Winker, standing on second, sped home to score.

Looking to preserve a possible lead, Martinez decided to use closer Kyle Finnegan in the ninth. Neither team scored. So the game went to extras. There was a rare sight in the Nats pen: setup man Hunter Harvey warming up. It could be debated that Finnegan should have stayed in. Whether he was tired or because of a matchup, only Martinez knows. Regardless, Harvey entered in the tenth and the Mets proceeded to blow the game open, scoring six runs and claiming a come-from-behind victory.

Wood runs from first to third while trying to keep his melmet on his head. (Photo: John Canery/The Zebra Press)

However, the Nats, rarely ever out of a contest, made it close. In the bottom of the inning, with Jacob Young and Abrams on base, Winker doubled to left on a Tyler Jay fastball. Young scored and Abrams moved to third  Next up, Ildimaro Vargas doubled to right, scoring Abrams and Winker. At 9-6, the Nats still were not through. With Vargas on, Wood came to bat. With all eyes focused on him, he seemed to exude only calm. At Triple-A this season, he cut his strikeout rate in half and raised his walks. So it was fitting that one of the attributes that brought him to the majors put him on base, when the majority of rookies would have gone down swinging. But hope was dashed as he was stranded on second. The game ended when Luis Garcia Jr. struck out swinging. An eventful night to say the least, the 9-7 loss drops the Nats farther into fourth place in the NL East.

Reflecting on Wood’s first game, Martinez said, “The kid did well. I mean, that’s what we talked about. He took his walks, got a base hit his first at- bat, hit the ball the other way, and he hustled.” Martinez also said the result of the game was “unfortunate.” But as he has preached for the last six years, the team has to bounce back for the next game.

MLB goes for six months. The schedule doesn’t allow players to dwell on losses for too long. With a new day comes another game and the possibility that things will turn around.

View boxscore and highlights HERE.

ICYMI: The Chamber ALX Presents 2024’s 40 Under 40 Honorees

Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button